FOR many music lovers it is quite simply one of highlights of the year.
Huddersfield Choral Society will sing Handel’s Messiah on two consecutive nights next week. And these showpiece events will pack the hall on both.
The first of the two concerts is on Tuesday for Choral subscribers with a repeat performance on Wednesday for members of the public.
And this year, there is perhaps an extra buzz around the public concert in particular since a new system of ticket sales has widened the opportunities for people to hear this internationally renowned choir.
What is a Choral tradition, singing Messiah just before Christmas each year, will be a fresh adventure to some next week.
Thanks to the new system of concert-goers being able to buy tickets for the public Messiah (and last week’s Christmas concert) through Kirklees booking offices rather than via a ticket application system, next Wednesday’s public Messiah concert will be a first for some.
And what a treat they are in for. Handel’s much-loved oratorio is an extraordinary work and never more so than in the hands of Huddersfield Choral Society.
Both Town Hall audiences next week will hear the Choral sing this famous oratorio accompanied by the Northern Sinfonia and conducted by the Choral’s conductor laureate Martyn Brabbins.
Martyn, a familiar figure to Choral supporters, is widely respected on the international music stage.
He is Chief Conductor of the Nagoya Philharmonic and Principal Guest Conductor of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic.
He has become a frequent guest with leading orchestras across the globe.
Martyn is known for his affinity with music of the late 19th/early 20th centuries and is closely associated with British music. Martyn has also conducted hundreds of world prèmieres and has close links with many of today’s foremost composers.
This year’s highlights have included his début with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; the First Night of the BBC Proms with the BBC Symphony (shared with Elder, Norrington and Gardner); and several performances of Elgar’s 1st Symphony with the Philharmonia Orchestra.
He conducted a new production of Ravel and Zemlinsky at Opera de Lyon, a world prèmiere by Christian Jost at the Flemish Opera, and a rare staging of Vaughan Williams’s The Pilgrim’s Progress at English National Opera which featured Roland Wood, one of the soloists next week in Huddersfield.
The other soloists will be Susan Gritton (soprano), Pamela Helen Stephen (mezzo soprano) and Ben Johnson (tenor).
Susan Gritton, winner of the 1994 Kathleen Ferrier Award, is one of the most accomplished lyric sopranos of her generation.
She is acclaimed for her versatility in music ranging from Handel and Mozart to Strauss, Berg and Britten.
Susan has sung with many of the major opera companies and in the major houses. She has sung at La Scala, at Covent Garden and Glyndebourne and with Opera Australia, the Bolshoi, Opera de Montreal and English National Opera.
Susan is also a prolific concert and recording artist.
Pamela Helen Stephen studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, at the Opera Theater Center at Aspen, Colorado with Herta Glaz and in Toronto with Patricia Kern.
Highly regarded as a versatile singer and a vivid actress, she has performed with many of the world’s greatest conductors.
She has sung with many opera companies including the Royal Opera at Covent Garden, with Opera North and Welsh National Opera as well as Opera Australia and companies in Lisbon, Paris and Amsterdam.
Pamela has a large concert repertoire and has made over 30 recordings.
The tenor for the two performances is Ben Johnson who has quickly established himself as one of the most exciting tenors of his generation.
He studied with Neil Mackie and Tim Evans-Jones at the Royal College of Music Benjamin Britten International Opera School.
Winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Awards in 2008, he was also a prizewinner at the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition and the Gerald Moore Awards (singer’s prize).
Ben has sung with English National Opera and with Glyndebourne Festival Opera. He is currently studying with Jeffrey Talbot.
Roland Wood studied at Royal Northern College of Music, then at National Opera Studio.
His operatic career began as a bass-baritone and he has sung with the major companies including Glyndebourne Festival Opera, English National Opera and Scottish Opera.
This autumn, his appearance at London Coliseum in The Pilgrim’s Progress was much praised.
There are a few tickets available for the performance on Tuesday, December 18, at 7.15pm. They are £26 and available through the Kirklees box office on 01484 223200 or on line.